If you've ever shopped for airline tickets to plan for business travel, you know that timing is key. One day you might find a great deal, only to see that it has disappeared a few days (or even hours) later. This is why it's so important to strategically time your business flight purchase. 

That said, picking the optimal time to buy an airline ticket is no easy task. There are several factors that you'll need to consider, especially if you are looking to fly in a certain class (though, economy can be interesting). The specific details of your trip will also help you determine how to proceed.

So, what is the best time to buy an airline ticket? When are airline tickets prices low? And what can you do to save as much money as possible on your next trip?

I will answer all of these questions and more, but first let's look out how airlines set their prices and why these prices change.

Factors to consider regarding airline ticket prices

Ticket pricing changes due to a number of different factors. First and foremost, airlines evaluate the type of passenger making the purchase. If you're traveling for leisure, you're likely buying your ticket well in advance. As a result, the prices are set high early on, and then adjusted based on consumer response and other market forces.

If you're traveling for business, the prices are set relatively low, especially if you're purchasing a ticket in advance. However, as seats fill up, the prices increase accordingly. Business travelers who purchase their airline tickets last minute tend to pay the highest prices.

This means that, no matter what kind of passenger you are, it is generally better to buy your ticket well before your trip. This may not always be possible, but it could help you save hundreds (or even thousands) on airfare. The time of year is also a very important factor when determining airline ticket prices.

You may want to consider flexible cards like the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, one of the best Chase business credit cards available, to book your flight. You can transfer your points to one of Chase's partners, helping you save money while giving you flight options.

When are airline tickets the cheapest?

According to Skyscanner, the cheapest months to fly are January, February, and September. The majority of leisure passengers are traveling during the holidays or summer months, and prices tend to drop once these periods end. So, if you have the freedom to choose when you fly, aim for months when fewer people are traveling. 

Unfortunately, you may not always have control over the dates of your trip. If you're traveling for bleisure, it may align with your predetermined vacation days, and if you're traveling for work, it's probably determined by the specific needs of your company. However, even if you can't control when you travel, you can control when you purchase your ticket.

What is the best time to buy airline tickets?

As previously stated, finding the best time to buy airline tickets will require you to evaluate the details of your trip. Nonetheless, there are times when prices tend to be low across the board:

  • The beginning of the week: Airlines tend to evaluate available space on flights at the beginning of the week and adjust their prices accordingly. If a given flight is not selling many seats, the price of tickets will drop. This is why it is usually best to shop for tickets on a Monday or Tuesday.

  • The afternoon or evening: It may not be the best idea to buy your airline ticket first thing on Monday morning. Many airlines will not have had the chance to change their prices yet. So, even though you'll want to take advantage of good deals early in the week, you don't want to be too early. Wait until mid-to-late afternoon on a Monday or Tuesday to give airlines enough time to lower their prices.

  • Buy at least one month in advance: Once you know when you're going to travel, you should try to buy your tickets between one and three months before the departure date. However, even if you can't buy your tickets early, you can still find good deals. Many airlines offer last minute deals on flights that are not sold out, though this is not always a reliable option.

Finally, adjusting the date of your departure is one of the best ways to save money on airline tickets. If you have the ability, try comparing prices within a range of dates. You'll be surprised how much prices can vary from one day to the next. In any case, the best time to buy airline tickets will still depend on your specific needs and travel schedule.